01/30/08 — Annexation group will appeal decision

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Annexation group will appeal decision

By Anessa Myers
Published in News on January 30, 2008 1:46 PM

The legal tug-of-war over annexation is not over between the city of Goldsboro and residents living along Salem Church and Buck Swamp roads.

Good Neighbors United, a group representing the 1,200 homes affected by the annexation, plans to make a final appeal to the state Supreme Court after losing an appeal of a verdict in the city's favor.

Bob Pleasants, the president of the neighbor's group, said today that after talking with their lawyer, Jim Eldridge, that they will ask the high court to hear the case.

The Supreme Court clerk says the group has 35 days from the day the decision was filed to file an appeal, following a verdict for the city by the state Court of Appeals that was announced earlier this month.

"We're not going to roll over and let the city walk all over us," Pleasants said today.

The state Court of Appeals found in favor of the city in a brief filed Jan. 15, saying that the previous judge, Judge Ripley Rand, made the correct decision last June when he said the city had met all the legal requirements necessary under state law to bring the area into the city limits.

There is no guarantee that the Supreme Court will hear the case. The residents will file a request for discretionary review. The Supreme Court does not hear every case brought to it. The court makes no determination of fact. Instead, it considers error in legal procedures or in judicial interpretation of the law. If the justices do not feel that there is a legitimate question of law involved, they are likely to decline the request.

Pleasants said the request would be filed by the deadline.

He remained optimistic that the court would eventually overturn the lower courts' decision.

"We just don't know what will happen, but we are certainly going to make a good try at it," Pleasants said. "In speaking with our lawyer, we believe there are items that the Appeals Court didn't touch on."

In its ruling, the Court of Appeals rejected every claim of judicial error the residents had made against Rand.

The legal battle started in 2004 when the City Council approved the annexation of areas on the east and west sides of Salem Church Road and on the north and south sides of Buck Swamp Road.

Residents opposed the plan and sued, saying the plan was flawed. A judge agreed argued that the city's annexation plan was flawed, forcing the city to redraw its plan. The plan was redrawn and approved by the council. The residents sued again but lost. Their appeal also failed.

The residents appealed that decision in September. The Appeals Court ruling came in January.

City Manager Joe Huffman referred comment on the matter this morning to former city Attorney Harrell Everett, who was involved in the original case. Everett had no comment.